Rose Main Reading room via NYPL
State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger have asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library’s main branch and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room at the 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue branch as interior landmarks, according to DNAInfo. The library’s main branch, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, was given landmark designation in 1967 and Astor Hall and the grand staircases within the building were designated as interior landmarks in 1974. Interior landmark designation would give the two reading rooms–favorites of literary greats including Norman Mailer, E.L. Doctorow and Elizabeth Bishop–the same protection moving forward.
Bill Blass Public Catalog Room
Both study rooms, which are open to the public daily, have been recently renovated in a two-year, $15 million restoration project that included the restoration of the ceilings and upgrades to lighting fixtures. The project was begun after a plaster rosette on the Rose Room’s ceiling fell 52 feet to the floor in 2014–the rosettes and their steel cables and all of the chandeliers in the room have been restored to their former glory.
In a May 15 letter to the LPC the state senators said that “With restorations of these two major interior spaces complete and public use of the library’s interiors at an all-time high, we must now recognize the Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room as the historic interior spaces that our city has come to treasure in our beloved library.” Senator Kreuger said in a statement that “now is the perfect time to protect these spaces in perpetuity and continue the process that began decades ago with the landmarking of the building’s exterior. Anyone who has stood in the Rose Reading Room knows that it is not only one of New York City’s cultural gems, it is one of the world’s great interior spaces.”
Ceiling mural, Rose Reading Room
Landmark designation for the Rose Reading Room was requested by Community Board 5 back in 2013; Sen. Hoylman had asked the LPC to put it on the calendar for a hearing: “The space itself is unique both in its superlative beauty and its monumental size. Visitors from around the world and native New Yorkers alike are struck by the ceiling’s recessed murals and gilded plaster ornamentation, the red Welsh quarry tile floor, and the 22-foot American white oak tabletops resting on marble bases.”
Detail: Bill Blass Public Catalog Room
The NYPL has said it welcomes interior landmark status. Interiors tend to receive more alterations over the years than building exteriors, and they are typically less accessible to the public, so they often have a tougher time getting landmark status.
There are currently 119 interior landmarks; in the past year the interior at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the interior of the Ambassador Grill at One UN New York Hotel have gotten the ok from the LPC. According to spokeswoman Damaris Olivo, the LPC is currently reviewing the rooms for designation.
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